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Dwight Thompson Wartime Letters


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Title  Dwight Thompson Wartime Letters 
Author  Dwight Thompson Jr., Letters written by Dwight Thompson Sr.
Text  Dwight Thompson's time in service as a Merchant Marine

Dwight started out his service in the Merchant Marines with 9 weeks of training on Catalina Island. From there his first trip onboard ship was on the S.S. Pendleton a T2-SE-A1 type, The T1 type were named after major oil fields in the United States. The T2 types were named after monuments, national parks, forts, battles, historic settlements, trails, lakes, and swamps. Later T3 type were built for private companies and named by the company. The T2-SE-A1 was the workhorse of the tanker fleet (481 built):
523 feet long overall
68-foot beam
30-foot draft
10,448 Gross tons
21,880 Loaded displacement tons
6,000 shaft horsepower Turbo-Electric propulsion
Speed 14.5-16 knots
Liquid capacity 141,200 barrels (42 gallons or 162 liters per barrel). [Nearly 6 million gallons] Tankers were developed around the turn of the century to carry liquid cargo: gasoline, oil, or molasses. During World War II, American tankers made 6,500 voyages to carry 65 million tons of oil and gasoline from the U.S. and the Caribbean to the war zones and to our Allies. They supplied 80% of the fuel used by bombers, tanks, jeeps and ships during the War. (http://www.usmm.org/tankers.html)

Sometime before Dwight had got on the S.S. Pendleton it had hit a reef and tore a big hole in the side. It was empty when Dwight got on in San Pedro, California. They went up to Everett, Washington straight into dry dock for 6 weeks waiting for repairs to be completed. When it was finally ready the S.S. Pendleton, starting from Everett Washington went to Eulethy(?) and then on to Guam caring 10,000 tons of Crude oil, Bunker Oil. Then went from Guam back to San Pedro, California. Following are a few letters from that trip, from Dwight to his Mother Thelma. All five letters were sent in the same envelope and have been left in the original spelling and grammar. Dwight was 18 years old at the time:


Envelope reads:
From:
Dwight L. Thompson
S.S. Pendleton
L.A. Tankers Inc.
C/O Postmaster
San Francisco
California

To:
Mr. and Mrs. Elic Thompson
Bird City
Kansas

Letter 1:
April 6 45
Dear folks
Well I kissed USA good bye last night. We left at 8:00 o'clock last night. I got to see Treasure Island yesterday but couldn't see Alkatraz. We got a boatswain yesterday and he was born and raised in Benk. He's been at St. Francis, Bird City and Atwood lots of times. He hasn't been there since 1935 so things have kinda changed but we have lots of talks about people and towns back there. Since we have left I have saw an Aircraft Carrier and a Cargo Ship. Yesterday there was a Submarine that went by us. Boy they sure are beauties. Well guess I'll close for now and mail this in about 3 wks. So goodbye for now.
Love and Kisses
Your son

Letter 2:
4/8/45
Dear Folks
Today as you probably know is Sunday. We had an easy day today. We are pretty well out to sea but everything is going pretty nice. When we left Frisco the sea gulls followed us for about fifty miles and then they turned around and went back. As soon as they leave the albatrosses start following us. They go all the way across. how they do it I don't know but they fly all of the time and even sleep while flying. I sure hope that I get a mess of letters when I get there. I have been reading and playing cards to pass the time away. Well, guess I'll close for now and write later. So goodbye and goodluck.
Love and kisses
(over)your son
P.S. I decided to put 3 or 4 letters in one because you will get them all at once anyway.

Letter 3:
April 10 Tues
Dear Folks,
Well it is getting plenty hot by now. I got a pretty nice sun burn today. Over half of the crew went around in their swimming trunks, but I decided I didn't want to get burnt too bad so I just took my shirt. Two planes went over today and we saw a cargo ship this morning. This morning when I got up there were several flying fish laying on the deck. They would be flying along and hit some superstructure and fall on the deck. There is a lot of them down here. There was also a couple of squid that had washed upon the deck. We had a fire drill and also an abandon ship drill this afternoon. I am in charge of one of the lifeboats but I am not bragging because you have to know too much. I sure am glad that you gave me that stationary folder. It makes it so much easier to handle all the paper I have. I got 3 sets of stationary, or Emilee did, when we were in Everett. So I would probably have paper strung all over the place if I didn't have it.
Well, I suppose Peggy is a proud mama by now. I sure hope she is OK. I can't imagine Minnie being a grandmother but I suppose she is.
I suppose Bob and Kennard will graduate next month. And little junior will be a sophamore next year. Well, I can't think of much else to write except that its pretty hot. The sweat is running off of me now in streams. Well goodbye for now.
Love and kisses
your son

Letter 4:
April 12
Dear folks,
I have been painting today. So I have got paint spots all over me.
About all that comes over the radio anymore is from Hawaii, but today we heard that Roosevelt died. That might make a difference in the war situation.
There has been several planes go over today and we passed a couple of ships. The flying fish are pretty thick, too. They sure are fun to watch.
Well, I guess I will close for now, so goodbye.
Love and kisses
your son

Letter 5:
April 14
Dear folks,
I can't think of much to write, but I'll try to think of something. I think this will be the last letter that I will put in this envelope. I just read all the letters that I have written. They sound pretty screwy to me but maybe they will do.
We have lots of fun sleeping outside but we get pretty wet. That's one way to keep cool. It rains 7 or 8 times a day but it never last over 5 or 10 minutes. I wish I knew where you are living or are going to live. Will I guess I will close and go up in the messhaul and play some checkers. Everybody plays checkers that don't play poker so we have some pretty good games once in a while. Well, goodbye for now.
Love and kisses
your son


After getting back Dwight went home for a week or so. Upon returning for his 3rd trip (1st trip going into dry dock), He was on the S.S. Whittier Hills, another T2-SE-A1 type, starting from San Pedro, California and went to the SaiPan / Tinian islands, then from there onto NaHa Harbor in Okinawa and from there on to Manila. On the way home from Manila Dwight said they must have pasted a 1,000 islands on the way to The Panama Canal. Once through the Panama Canal they went to Galveston, Texas.

Following are three letters from Thelma to Dwight during that trip, unfortunately the third envelope no longer carries the letter that was inside.


Letter 1:
From:
Thelma Thompson
Edson, Kans.

To:
Dwight Lee Thompson
S.S. Pendleton
L.A. Tankers Inc.
San Francisco
California

Wed May 2 - 45
Dear Son: Well it has been nearly a month since I got your last letter. Surely will get a letter before long. I bought this Air mail tablet & thot Id try it out while I'm waiting for Dad. We are in Straton & he wants to see the realestate man who is out of town at the present but suppose to be back soon. We went out to see the place the lady on it said about all the places around it have sold lately. It doesn't look like the people live so far apart out there. That is by looking at the houses, of course some of them might be vacant. Guess I told you Jerry will have to go to Stratton to school. Think one of the neighbors brings the kids in from out there. This isn't a very big town. I just see a drug store/ gro store, sort of a variety store then some kind of a ladies ready to wear shop. Looks like at least half the buildings are vacant. Think nothing of the scribbling. Jimmy has pushed & pulled ever thing on the car. He has the tire iron trying to roll the glass down now. He gets astradle of the seat & calls it his horse. I said this morning he reminds me of you & Bob. He can get in the back of the trunk in a windo.

He goes up and over the cab like a monkey. We've sure been getting a lot of rain. It's too wet to work in the field. Jim's trying the horn out now. It's sure windy today. The ground out here could be worked, Suppose Dad will try to get out here in a few days with the tractor. They got the pasture fence fixed yesterday at home & the cattle shut off the wheat. I got a letter from Emilee this morn. Guess shes OK. She said something about coming out thurs. Don't know if she means tomorrow or a wk from tomorrow. She will prob. catch a ride out with the boys. Fri. is visiting day at Jerry's school I'd like to go in. of course the time to visit his room in 9 AM.There's a program in the after noon. & the Jr. Sr. banquet is Fri eve & I'd like to see how there room is decorated. It's suppose to be mexican style. Well it's 4 oclock & still waiting. I've got to have some gro. Dad said we'd be in Goodland by 6 but I think I'll plan safe & get a few gro. here. The bus is stopping. Jim ask if Emmy was in it. He thinks your in it & going to Calif. Altho he tells ever one your on the ocean on a ship. He said yesterday he had a headache in his tummy. Well bye bye loads of love Mom. pens dry
I'm lucky forgot envelopes & happened to have one addressed in my pocket book.

Wish I knew if you needed this
extra paper. Be sure & keep a supply. They
say in places it's hard to get.


Letter 2:
From:
Thelma Thompson
Edson, Kans.

To:
Dwight Lee Thompson
Whittier Hills
L.A. Tankers Inc.
% Postmaster
San Francisco
California

Well well, here we go again. Dad first came in & he wants to know. If your wheat should be pretty good if you'd be interested in investing in a place in Colo.
Here's the discription.-
1/2 section (or 320 Acres) 5 mi north west of
Stratton. has a good little house (about 3 rooms)
good well fair barn about 200 acres farm
ground rest is kind of rough pasture land.
He thinks it can be bought around 9\00 per acre.
(we gave $18\75 for our place) about 500\00 down &
2 or 3 hundred per year.
Sounds like a pretty good buy. Dad said he was going to try to talk Bob into buying out there but he seems to think just farm land was all he would need. If you'd be interested in something out there let us know & Dad will look around. Sure hope you can settle close to us after this war is over. I told you in 1 letter you got your classification card in's 2B. I'll keep it until I hear from you. Well bye bye again & write as soon as you can am looking for a letter ever

day now but if we don't hear for 5 wks again I'll have to wait a while. Glad you got to see the folks in Colo. Emilie seems to think their place is wonderful XXXXX

(Following was crossed out: I got about all the letters back I wrote to you on the Pendleton after we heard from you.) That is the letters you got were written before we got any from you. sounds dutch

you must have never gotten any answers to your letters written on SS Pendleton. In a hurry as you might guess. Guess we'll have to shout if we make any noise the 4th but maybe the boys are making the big noise over Japan. Hope so.


Letter 3:
From:
Thelma Thompson
Edson, Kans.

To:
Dwight Lee Thompson
S.S. Whittier Hills
L.A. Tankers Inc.
San Francisco
California

No letter inside envelope.


After that trip Dwight went home again for a few days. When he returned for his 4th and last trip it was on the 589 S.S. Wesleyan Victory, a VC2-S-AP2 type, 589 was the Maritime Commission (MCV) Hull Number. The Victory ship (officially VC2) was 455 feet long and 62 feet wide. Her cross-compound steam turbine with double reduction gears developed 6,000 (AP2 type) or 8,500 (AP3s type) horsepower.
Typically, Victory's were armed with:
One 5-inch stern gun
One 3-inch bow gun
Eight 20 mm machine guns
(http://www.usmm.org/victoryships.html)
Starting in San Francisco, California with 10,000 tons of Jeeps in creates, although Dwight said he didn't think there were Jeeps in those creates, they went to Okinawa, NaHa Habor again, this time for 73 days. Dwight's longest stay in the service. The war was over at that time and Okinawa didn't need the Jeeps so they took them to Manila. From Okinawa they went to Manila passing what seemed like another 1,000 islands to get there.

Following are several letters from Dwight to his Mother Thelma on this last trip:


Letter 1:
From:
Dwight L. Thompson
SS Wesleyan Victory
Sudden & Christenson Inc.
c/o Postmaster
San Francisco
California

To:
Mrs. Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

Oct 20
at sea

Dearest mother & all,
I guess we will reach Okinawa tomorrow so I decided I had better write some letters. I should receive a few tomorrow too. Well, yesterday I had the good fortune of visiting Bucks hunting grounds. Iwo Jima in other words. It's an awful small island to have such a fight over it looks to me like. Kennard seems to like the sea pretty good now but I don't think he did at first altho he didn't get seasick. We sure had about a week of awful rough weather too. We went up around by the Aleutions and it gets pretty rough & cold up there. Well, I wish I knew how Emilee is. I should find out some news tomorrow but it will probably be at least a week old.

I sure hope this trip isn't very long. I don't believe it will be unless they change our orders. It is supposed to be a two months trip, but you can't never tell. Well, I guess I'll eat chow and then finish this up. Well back at it. I don't know which I like the best frieghters to tankers they both have their advantages and disadvantages. I believe tho I like tankers the best. I guess about everybody on here is from California but me & Ken. I guess I'll drop Buck a line tonight I don't know weather his address in the same or not but I will mail it anyway. Well, mother dear I can't think of anything else for tonight so I will close for now & write later.
Love & kisses
your son


Letter 2:
Rec Dec 10
From:
Dwight L. Thompson
SS Wesleyan Victory
Sudden & Christenson Inc.
c/o Postmaster
San Francisco
California

To:
Mrs. Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

Okinawa - Nov 25

Dearest Mother,
I got two letters from you today and one from emmy. I sure was glad to get them. One was only nine days old. I never did find out how Jimmy hurt his finger. It must have been pretty bad if he had to have stitches. Poor little feller. You ask me if I knew when I will get back. I don't have any idea, but today it was announced that all the ships here that went over sixteen knots an our will be sent to Manila after they get unloaded, to carry troops. So I don't know what will happen or when I will get back. The wind storm that I spoke of never did materialize. I guess it went around us. I figured the kids would like my letters pretty good. I'll probably write them before long again. We hear about as much news over the radio as you

probably do. Sure hope Buck makes it home. I'd sure like to see him. I'd like to see all the stuff that Emilee got at the shower. I bet she's tickled over all of it. Sure am glad. I went ashore the other day and got quite a few shels. We went to a little island a couple miles off. It sure is tore up. I would like to find a knife or sword or something but I never did. I saw lots of hand grenades and rifle shells but a don't fool with them much. I found twelve or fourteen of those sea shells like that one we put on that chain of Emilees. I found lots of different kinds too. Well I guess this is all for now.
Love and kisses forever
Your Son
P.S. Boy Kennard shore is putting on the fat. I bet he has gained at least ten pounds. I think I am too.


Letter 3:
Postmarked 19 Dec 1945, Missent to Ebson, Kansas
From:
Dwight Thompson
SS Wesleyan Victory
Sudden & Christenson Inc.
c/o Postmaster
San Francisco
California

To:
Mrs. Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

Dear Mom
Well, I can't think of any thing to write but I'll do my best. I guess today is the precious day I have been looking for or I mean it was suppose to be. I haven't got any mail for about four days. I'm getting kinda impatient to know how things are back there. It has been too stormy here for the lifeboat to go ashore after mail. It has been pretty cold and a hard wind and awful rough weather. I have been playing a lot of chess lately. It is really a good game. Not bragging any, but I am getting pretty good at it. We got a hole slug of games from the red cross the other day. Checkers chess, Monopoly, Darts, cards of all kinds and lot of other things. We have lots of fun with all

of them. Well it has been three months and three days since I left home. It doesn't seem near that long to me, but it has been plenty long enough. We have been setting in one spot here a long time.
Well mother dear, I guess I'll close for now. I am hoping to here from you soon.
Love & kisses forever
Your Son


Letter 4:
Rec Jan 5 46
From:
Dwight Thompson
c/o Postmaster
San Francisco

To:
Mrs. Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

Dec 27

Dear Mom
Well, yesterday I received five letters. Two from you three from Emilee & that one from Jerry. One of your letters was written Nov. 6. It was 50 days old. It was a big fat one, the one telling about jimmies finger. Thats why I never knew how it was hurt. I don't know how it was delayed but it was. I'm glad it got OK.
Well, I suppose christmas is over and everybody is happy back there.
Everybody is figuring up there discharges again. A kid got a letter yesterday

about our discharges. We have to have 32 months of service in the merchant marines & maritime. I went in Nov. 23 so I've got 13 months up to date. We've got to have 75% of our time in active duty. I guess I've got 19 months to go. It seems like quite a stretch, but I guess I'll make it someway.
Well, mom, I guess this is all for now. I'm sure glad to here my family is still OK.
Love & kisses forever.
Your Son
(over)

P.S. To answer some questions I missed. Dorothy did write for about the first month, but she quite & told Ken he better not write any more. I think it will blow over.


Letter 5:
Rec. Jan 16 46
From:
D L Thompson
SS Wesleyon
San Francisco

To:
Mrs Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

Dec 30

Dear mom
Well, I haven't got any mail for 4 or 5 days so I can't think of much to write. Connie was six days old the last I heard. She's 20 now, I'd like to know if her & Emilee are still alright. She's sure got a slug of uncles, hasn't she? I'll sure be glad when I get back there again. Before long I hope the way everything sounds we will probably go to Manila later on.
Last night a kid was slicing some bread to make a sandwich & the knife slipped and

cut his finger off at the first joint. Cut clear through. We still got the piece of finger on exhibition here. Sure looked awful when he cut it off.
Well I guess I'll close for now & write Jerry a word or two
Love & kisses forever
Your son


Letter 6:
Rec Jan 10 46
From:
Dwight Thompson
Wesleyan Victory
c/o Postmaster
Frisco

To:
Mrs. Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

Jan 1
Dear Mom,
I haven't got any mail for over a week. I'd kinda like to here how things are going.
We had quite a time last nite. We got some rockets & flares out of some life boats and shot them off at 12:00. It lasted about half an hour all the ships were shooting flares and rockets and blowing there whistle and flashing there signal lights & the lights on shore were all flashing.

Well this ain't much but I guess it is about all. Maybe I'll get some mail before long and then I can think of something.
Love & kisses
Your son

Dec 30

Dear Jerry,
I got your other letter quite a while back. I answered it tho. Yes, I have saw lots of Japs. Dead ones and live ones. On all days except Sunday I get up at 7:30. Sunday I get up around noon. Yes, I wish I was home. It isn't very hot here. In fact it is chilly as the devil. It gets down around 45 sometimes up to about 82 or 83. Well, how do you like your little niece? Is she good looking?

Do you feel any more important now being an uncle?
Well, I guess I'll close now & try to sleep.
Love
Dwight


Letter 7:
Rec Jan 17 46
From:
Dwight Thompson
SS Wesleyan Victory
Sudden & Christenson
310 Samsome St.
San Francisco
California

To:
Mrs. Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

January 5
Phillipeans

Dear mom,
Well, mom, it seems like I am getting farther away from home than closer. If I keep on I will be about as far away as I can get. We are in San Fernando. That is along the west coast of Laizon in the Phillipeans. The way they talk there is only two ships ahead of us so I don't think it will be long until we start unloading. This is about the prettiest island I have seen.

It's got lots of trees and green grass on it. Ken & I was up looking through the field glasses at lots of things. Some of the guys went ashore this afternoon. They liked the place pretty good. Manila is about 160 miles away I guess. I might go there if I get a chance. Ken and some other guys went to a show tonight over on a navy ship. I'll probably go tomorrow night.
Well, I'd like to know if Emilee & Connie are still OK. I sure like

don't have the priveiledge of the fleet post office anymore.
Well, this is all for now.
Love & kisses forever
Your Son


Letter 8:
Rec. Jan 23 - 46
From:
Dwight Thompson
S.S. Wesleyan Victory
Sudden & Christenson Inc.
310 Sansome Street
San Francisco
California

To:
Mrs. Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

Jan 10
Manila

Dear mom,
Well, I guess it is about time for me to drop you a line. We moved to Manila from San Fernando the 7th. I don't now how long we'll be here. The way they talk we are liable to unload before long and go to Calcutta, India. I don't know why.
This is a real place. Ken & I went ashore yesterday. I will have to wait until I get home to tell you about it, because I couldn't began to tell you about all we saw. I have lots of sovineers. There are really lots of people here. The streets are just packed. Mostly all Phillipinos. Some of the women are really good looking, Far better than the Okinawians. Most of the guys are really going for them, but not me. they sell everything

in Manila that they do in the states. I don't mean women necessarily. I you can by watches & stationary & everything you can buy in the States. They sell cameras, too, but they cost 60 pasos (30 dollars) for not too good a one. They have pasos & centavos here. Two pasos in a dollar and two centavos in a penny. The place is tore up pretty bad, but they are getting it back in shape pretty well. It is plenty hot here. I dug out my short dungarees and am carrying a sunburn around on my back.
Well I guess Connie Jean is a month old today. I'd sure like to see her. It will be quite a while tho I guess. Well, goodnight for now.
Love & kisses forever
Son


Letter 9:
Rec Jan 28-46
From:
Dwight Thompson
SS Wesleyan Victory
Sudden & Christenson Inc.
310 Sansome Street
San Francisco
California

To:
Mrs. Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

Manila
Jan. 14

Dear mom,
We started unloading today. We aren't in to the dock yet but are unloading our deck cargo on barges. We plan to go to the dock either tomorrow or the next day. Some of us guys went ashore Sat. nite & stayed all night at the Seamens Service. It is a swell place. The have a swimming pool, canteen & play ping pong, horse shoes, basket ball, show pictures & lots of other things. We saw a picture by the name of "Tonight and Every night"

I had quite a surprise there. I ran on to Malcum Van Fleet. We had a nice long visit & had a good time together. He is on a troop ship. I caught a cold the other night & it is about to drive me bats. I'll sure be glad when we get unloaded if we just don't go to Calcutta. I bet we do tho. If we don't we should be back by the first of March. It was four months ago tonight that I spent my last night there. In ways it seems longer & in ways it doesn't seem so long.

What I am espicially anxious for is to see that granddaughter of yours. I bet she is a honey. The last mail I got was Dec. 26. She was six days old when the last letter was written. I'm sure glad I heard about her before they screwed up our mail service. I hope you are getting my mail.
Well I guess this is all for now.
Love & kisses forever
Son


Letter 10:
Rec. Feb. 1st 46
From:
Dwight Thompson
SS Wesleyan Victory
Sudden & Chrictenson
310 Sansome Street
San Francisco
California

To:
Mrs. Elic Thompson
Edson
Kansas

Jan 20
Dear mom,
Well I guess it is about time for me to drop you a line again. We are still discharging. I guess it will take 2 or 3 days yet before we are finished. As far as I know we are still going to India when we are finished. It is awful hot here, but I understand it is hotter there than here.
Ken & I went ashore today. We didn't do much except get a few sovineers & got our pictures took.

They are really corny but I am going to send one any way. I hope you get my mail. The last I got was Dec. 26.
The other night we saw a ship explode and burn up. It had liquid oxgden on it. That stuff burns worse than gasoline. It also had a bunch of nylon parachutes on it. They don't a bad job of burning either. The ship was only about 200 yards away. It was completely ruined. I never did here whither

all the crew got off or not, but I doubt it very much. There are sunken ships laying all over the harbor. The water is pretty shallow and you can see parts of them sticking up. One day I counted sixteen ships that were sunk, just on on side of our ships. There was more than that sunken on the other side. The ones I counted were all pretty close, too.

I'd sure like to know Emilee and the baby is. The baby was only 6 days old the last I heard. Now it is about 40 days old. Well I guess I'll close for now. I hope I here from you soon and I also hope you like the picture even tho it is awful screwy
Love & kisses forever
Son


After they were unloaded they went to New Caledonia and picked up 10,000 tons of Chromium Ore and headed for Panama and went through the Panama Canal. They were on their way to Norfolk, Virginia, but got orders to go to Hoboken, New York, as they got to the New York Harbor they went right by the Statue of Liberty.

Although there were more letters throughout Dwight's time in the service these are the only ones known to still exist. Given to Dwight Jr. from Thelma Thompson after Dwight Sr. passed away in 1991. If you have or know of others please contact Dwight Thompson Jr. at dwight@thomology.com. Thank you
For more information on Merchant Marines go to: http://www.usmm.org
Ships information found at: http://www.usmm.org/victoryships.html

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